Growth by Design

09-15-2015 in Livestock

Before starting construction in May 2015, the Hein family called the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) to help them navigate the rules for cattle confinement buildings and assess potential sites.

Ben Hein wanted to grow his livestock farm while working full-time off the farm, so he needed a cattle facility that required minimal labor and provided time efficiency. This deep-pitted cattle barn provides both.

“Ben is like many other young farmers in the state and has decided to use livestock as a way to return to the family farm,” said Kent Mowrer, CSIF senior field coordinator. “Livestock provides young farmers the means to get started in farming and position their farm for future growth.”

“We looked at several other barns before deciding on this design,” Ben said. “I liked the deep pit design – it will save a lot of time not having to bed cattle. I also wanted to use the manure as fertilizer for my crops. By having a slatted barn versus a bed pack, I’m able to get more fertilizer from the manure.”

With the Coalition’s help, the family located the facility on their existing farmstead. The family built a 499-head monoslope cattle barn with four pens that hold 124 head each. The Coalition and Iowa Beef Systems recently hosted an open house at Hein’s farm near Monticello that drew more than 350 attendees.

The family said they visited several other farms with different style buildings to determine the best design for their new cattle facility. They eventually went with a Commander Building built by Iowa Beef Systems.

The barn is slatted with a 12 foot pit underneath the pens and continues past the south bunkline, creating pump outs that can be accessed without entering the pens. Rubber mats also improve cattle comfort and reduce leg injuries.

The barn is 88 feet wide by 218 feet long, and each pen will have different weights of cattle, allowing them to market eight times a year. The first group of cattle will be placed in the barn in September.

CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers who want help interpreting rules and regulations, guidance on good site locations for barns, counsel on enhancing neighbor relations and tips on how to protect the environment at no cost. For more information, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit

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